I had a contest with myself while I was in college. The challenge was simple: acquire as much knowledge as humanly possible in four years. I took history classes and Spanish classes, sociology and psychology, astronomy and even a physics course. My schedule was always overloaded, and I was always writing a paper or preparing for an exam (I’m sure none of the students at American University can relate). I was always exhausted, but I was usually happy, because I was learning, and I graduated with (nearly) two majors and three minors.
I received an excellent education. What I’m less certain about is how well my undergraduate institution prepared me to utilize my education in my everyday life. I’m not talking about how I was taught to use my history major in the work force. I am referencing how I was empowered to apply what my classes had taught me as I went about living my life day to day – that is, how what I learned helped me to become a more faithful Christian and a better human being. To be fair, I’m not sure that the onus is entirely on my college. I didn’t really begin thinking about this until I began seminary three years ago.
In many ways, this is what the Initiative for Religion and Civic Life is attempting to do: to enable students to consider how their faith affects their everyday lives, and how our religious traditions and heritage moves us from thought to action. Conversely, we are working to make clear how one’s life outside of temple or church affects one’s orientation to faith and religious tradition.
To that end, the IRCL has partnered with AU’s Department of Philosophy and Religion to create an Undergraduate Certificate for Religion and Civic Life. This 15-hour certificate demonstrates that the student is engaged not only in the pursuit of knowledge, but that they are actively interested in applying this knowledge to one’s vocational pursuits and one’s faith (or relationship with the world’s faith traditions). The certificate encompasses a wide variety of study areas at American University. To see all of the certificate requirements, and learn more about the IRCL, visit here.
So take advantage of this opportunity to integrally relate your education with your experiences outside AU. My college-age self is jealous of you.